Russian comedian Savelly Kramerov, who gave up a successful film career in his homeland for religious freedom and bit parts in the United States, died June 6 of cancer in San Francisco. He was 60.
Kramerov spent 13 years in the U.S.
He started his career in the former Soviet Union after graduating from the Soviet State Film School, and made 42 films before telling authorities in 1979 that he wanted to move to Israel.
The film star was allowed to leave in the early 1980s but went to the U.S. instead.
Before leaving, he publicized his efforts to leave the Soviet Union.
“I am a prisoner of my own success,” Kramerov said. He claimed Soviet officials would regard him as a traitor and have to “wipe my face off” the television screen if he left the country.
His best-known Soviet films included “Ivan Vasilyevich Changes his Profession,” “Twelve Chairs,” “My Friend Kolka,” “Gentlemen of Fortune,” “Long Recess” and “Afonya.”
He is probably best known in the U.S. for his role as the hotdog selling KGB operative in “Moscow on the Hudson.” He was a Soviet cosmonaut in “2010,” a Russian ambassador in “Red Heat” and a Russian sailor in “Love Affair.” Kramerov also had cameo roles in “Armed and Dangerous” and “Tango and Cash.”
After he defected, his films weren’t shown in Soviet movie theaters or on television, but in recent years they have become popular again.
He leaves his wife, Natalya, his daughter, Bassia of Las Vegas and a stepson, Michael Siradze of San Francisco.